20th December 2007
Is this the secret stash of Asterix and Obelix? A record breaking Treasure Trove of Gaulish gold coins has been found in a farmers field in France.
The hoard of coins, found in central Brittany was discovered by the French government agency, the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP). They have the right to explore any potentially significant site before a road or new building covers it forever. And this area is due for a new by-pass to be built.
The coins are believed to have been minted around 75 to 5BC and were likely buried in order to protect the Celtic tribes wealth just before, or during, the first Roman invasions of northern and western France
It is believed that they were all buried together but disturbed over the centuries by agricultural ploughing. "We found a single coin about 30cms down and then we started a systematic search," Mr Roy said. "We found 50 more in a single day and then, with the help of metal detectors, we located all the others."
The dig also unearthed the remains of a large manor house or farm, which is thought to have belonged to the "Osisme" people – a Celtic tribe living in the far west of the Breton peninsula.
"Treasure on this scale would only have been used for transactions between aristocratic families," Yves Menez, an archaeologist specializing in iron-age Brittany said. It had always been assumed that the Celtic nobility lived in fortified towns, not in the wild and dangerous countryside. "The reality must have been more complex," Mr Menez continued. Like all Gaulish coins, the 58 "stateres" and 487 quarter "stateres" found near to the village of Laniscat are copies of early Greek money.
Gauls once served as mercenaries in the armies of Alexander the Great. The money that they brought home were used as models for their own and some of the gold coins, rescued from the site of the proposed dual-carriageway, have the familiar Celtic monetary pattern of a horse on one side and a man's head on the reverse. Other coins have hitherto unknown designs, such as horses with human heads.
Coins were for the super-rich. "This is an exceptional discovery," said Mr Menez. "It represents a colossal fortune for the period. Each of these coins was like a 500 euro note today."
Further information on what to do if you find treasure trove can be found here: treasure trove.
So get digging, there could be a record gold treasure trove to be found in your back garden.